Friday, June 1, 2018

"How Brandy and 1998 Changed Everything for My Family"





According to one of our saucy preferred sources:

"This week, Billboard is celebrating the music of 20 years ago with a week of content about the most interesting artists, albums, songs and stories from 1998. Here, writer Morgan Jerkins -- niece of writer/producers Rodney and Fred Jerkins, and daughter of songwriter Sybil Jerkins Cherry -- recalls the recording of Brandy's best-selling Never Say Never album, and the impact the set had on her musical family's fortunes at the turn of the millennium.

I was only six years old when my family’s trajectory changed forever.

At that time, I was traveling between Southern New Jersey and the Los Angeles area while being homeschooled and auditioning for various commercials. I lived in the Oakwood Apartments in Woodland Hills with my mother and older sister, along with many other aspiring actresses, some of whom would become notable names in the entertainment industry, such as Hilary Duff.

But some of the biggest memories that I have are not necessarily of the stargazing, but of time spent in recording studios throughout Los Angeles, where my uncles, Rodney and Freddie, were working around the clock with Brandy for her sophomore album, Never Say Never.



I remember the first day that I met her: She was eating Taco Bell in front of the recording equipment and wrapped her arms around me as if she had known for me for years. Given the time that she was putting in with my uncles, through that familiarity, I suppose that maybe she had. I was there when Brandy and Monica were going in and out of the booth, recording their soon-to-be iconic "The Boy is Mine" duet. Because I was so young, I believed that I was simply observing, passing time before my mother would take me to Universal CityWalk, not realizing that the stage-setting for my family’s musical legacy was underway.

My grandfather, Fred Jerkins III, was a pastor who resided in a Pentecostal church just right outside of Atlantic City. His four children -- my aunt Sharene, my mother Sybil, my uncle Rodney, and my Uncle Freddie -- all had various duties during church services, whether it was playing the piano or singing in the choir.

Besides being the first lady of the church, my grandmother Sylvia was a housekeeper for a rich, white family and noticed how their children were playing the piano. Subsequently, she asked her employer about the piano playing -- and from there, at the precocious age of five, Rodney began to take classical lessons with my grandmother’s boss. As Rodney got older, my grandfather taught him more Gospel-infused elements, such bass lines for shouting music and different chord progressions that could support the preacher’s sermons. When he thinks of what my grandfather would advise him to do, he would say, "Just create. Don’t try to play something that’s already out there. Create your own composition." -Billboard.com








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